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1.  The equity dimension in evaluations of the quality and outcomes framework: A systematic review 
Background
Pay-for-performance systems raise concerns regarding inequity in health care because providers might select patients for whom targets can easily be reached. This paper aims to describe the evolution of pre-existing (in)equity in health care in the period after the introduction of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) in the UK and to describe (in)equities in exception reporting. In this evaluation, a theory-based framework conceptualising equity in terms of equal access, equal treatment and equal treatment outcomes for people in equal need is used to guide the work.
Methods
A systematic MEDLINE and Econlit search identified 317 studies. Of these, 290 were excluded because they were not related to the evaluation of QOF, they lacked an equity dimension in the evaluation, their qualitative research focused on experiences or on the nature of the consultation, or unsuitable methodology was used to pronounce upon equity after the introduction of QOF.
Results
None of the publications (n = 27) assessed equity in access to health care. Concerning equity in treatment and (intermediate) treatment outcomes, overall quality scores generally improved. For the majority of the observed indicators, all citizens benefit from this improvement, yet the extent to which different patient groups benefit tends to vary and to be highly dependent on the type and complexity of the indicator(s) under study, the observed patient group(s) and the characteristics of the study. In general, the introduction of QOF was favourable for the aged and for males. Total QOF scores did not seem to vary according to ethnicity. For deprivation, small but significant residual differences were observed after the introduction of QOF favouring less deprived groups. These differences are mainly due to differences at the practice level. The variance in exception reporting according to gender and socio-economic position is low.
Conclusions
Although QOF seems not to be socially selective at first glance, this does not mean QOF does not contribute to the inverse care law. Introducing different targets for specific patient groups and including appropriate, non-disease specific and patient-centred indicators that grasp the complexity of primary care might refine the equity dimension of the evaluation of QOF. Also, information on the actual uptake of care, information at the patient level and monitoring of individuals' health care utilisation tracks could make large contributions to an in-depth evaluation. Finally, evaluating pay-for-quality initiatives in a broader health systems impact assessment strategy with equity as a full assessment criterion is of utmost importance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-209
PMCID: PMC3182892  PMID: 21880136
2.  Improving the identification of people with dementia in primary care: evaluation of the impact of primary care dementia coding guidance on identified prevalence 
BMJ Open  2013;3(12):e004023.
Objective
Improving dementia care is a policy priority nationally and internationally; there is a ‘diagnosis gap’ with less than half of the cases of dementia ever diagnosed. The English Health Department's Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) encourages primary care recognition and recording of dementia. The codes for dementia are complex with the possibility of underidentification through miscoding. We developed guidance on coding of dementia; we report the impact of applying this to ‘clean up’ dementia coding and records at a practice level.
Design
The guidance had five elements: (1) identify Read Codes for dementia; (2) access QOF dementia register; (3) generate lists of patients who may have dementia; (4) compare search with QOF data and (5) review cases. In each practice, one general practitioner conducted the exercise. The number of dementia QOF registers before and after the exercise was recorded with the hours taken to complete the exercise.
Setting
London primary care.
Participants
23 (85%) of 27 practices participated, covering 79 312 (19 562 over 65 s) participants.
Outcomes
The number on dementia QOF registers; time taken.
Results
The number of people with dementia on QOF registers increased from 1007 to 1139 (χ2=8.17, p=0.004), raising identification rates by 8.8%. It took 4.7 h per practice, on an average.
Conclusions
These data demonstrate the potential of a simple primary care coding exercise, requiring no specific training, to increase the dementia identification rate. An improvement of 8.8% between 2011 and 2012 is equivalent to that of the fourth most improved primary care trust in the UK. In absolute terms, if this effects were mirrored across the UK primary care, the number of cases with dementia identified would rise by over 70 000 from 364 329 to 434 488 raising the recognition rate from 46% to 54.8%. Implementing this exercise appears to be a simple and effective way to improve recognition rates in primary care.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004023
PMCID: PMC3884610  PMID: 24366579
PRIMARY CARE; PUBLIC HEALTH
3.  A qualitative study of primary care clinicians' views of treating childhood obesity 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:50.
Background
The prevalence of childhood obesity is rising and the UK Government have stated a commitment to addressing obesity in general. One method has been to include indicators relating to obesity within the GP pay-for-performance Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) contract. This study aimed to explore general practitioners' and practice nurses' views in relation to their role in treating childhood obesity.
Methods
We interviewed eighteen practitioners (twelve GPs and six nurses) who worked in general practices contracting with Rotherham Primary Care Trust. Interviews were face to face and semi structured. The transcribed data were analysed using framework analysis.
Results
GPs and practice nurses felt that their role was to raise the issue of a child's weight, but that ultimately obesity was a social and family problem. Time constraint, lack of training and lack of resources were identified as important barriers to addressing childhood obesity. There was concern that the clinician-patient relationship could be adversely affected by discussing what was often seen as a sensitive topic. GPs and practice nurses felt ill-equipped to tackle childhood obesity given the lack of evidence for effective interventions, and were sceptical that providing diet and exercise advice would have any impact upon a child's weight.
Conclusion
GPs and practice nurses felt that their role in obesity management was centred upon raising the issue of a child's weight, and providing basic diet and exercise advice. Clinicians may find it difficult to make a significant impact on childhood obesity while the evidence base for effective management remains poor. Until the lack of effective interventions is addressed, implementing additional targets (for example through the QOF) may not be effective.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-50
PMCID: PMC2008193  PMID: 17767720
4.  Implementing the NICE osteoarthritis guidelines: a mixed methods study and cluster randomised trial of a model osteoarthritis consultation in primary care - the Management of OsteoArthritis In Consultations (MOSAICS) study protocol 
Background
There is as yet no evidence on the feasibility of implementing recommendations from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) osteoarthritis (OA) guidelines in primary care, or of the effect these recommendations have on the condition. The primary aim of this study is to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of a model OA consultation (MOAC), implementing the core recommendations from the NICE OA guidelines in primary care. Secondary aims are to investigate the impact, feasibility and acceptability of the MOAC intervention; to develop and evaluate a training package for management of OA by general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses; test the feasibility of deriving ‘quality markers’ of OA management using a new consultation template and medical record review; and describe the uptake of core NICE OA recommendations in participants aged 45 years and over with joint pain.
Design
A mixed methods study with a nested cluster randomised controlled trial.
Method
This study was developed according to a defined theoretical framework (the Whole System Informing Self-management Engagement). An overarching model (the Normalisation Process Theory) will be employed to undertake a comprehensive ‘whole-system’ evaluation of the processes and outcomes of implementing the MOAC intervention. The primary outcome is general physical health (Short Form-12 Physical component score [PCS]) (Ware 1996). The impact, acceptability and feasibility of the MOAC intervention at practice level will be assessed by comparing intervention and control practices using a Quality Indicators template and medical record review. Impact and acceptability of the intervention for patients will be assessed via self-completed outcome measures and semi-structured interviews. The impact, acceptability and feasibility of the MOAC intervention and training for GPs and practice nurses will be evaluated using a variety of methods including questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and observations.
Discussion
The main output from the study will be to determine whether the MOAC intervention is clinically and cost effective. Additional outputs will be the development of the MOAC for patients consulting with joint pain in primary care, training and educational materials, and resources for patients and professionals regarding supported self-management and uptake of NICE guidance.
Trial registration
ISRCTN number: ISRCTN06984617.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0095-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0095-y
PMCID: PMC4176866  PMID: 25209897
Osteoarthritis; General practice; Implementation; Primary care; NICE guidelines; Self-management
5.  Measuring depression severity in general practice: discriminatory performance of the PHQ-9, HADS-D, and BDI-II 
The British Journal of General Practice  2011;61(588):e419-e426.
Background
The UK Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) rewards practices for measuring symptom severity in patients with depression, but the endorsed scales have not been comprehensively validated for this purpose.
Aim
To assess the discriminatory performance of the QOF depression severity measures.
Design and setting
Psychometric assessment in nine Scottish general practices.
Method
Adult primary care patients diagnosed with depression were invited to participate. The HADS-D, PHQ-9, and BDI-II were assessed against the HRSD-17 interview. Discriminatory performance was determined relative to the HRSD-17 cut-offs for symptoms of at least moderate severity, as per criteria set by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and NICE. Receiver operating characteristic curves were plotted and area under the curve (AUC), sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios (LRs) calculated.
Results
A total of 267 were recruited per protocol, mean age = 49.8 years (standard deviation [SD] = 14.1), 70% female, mean HRSD-17=12.6 (SD = 7.62, range = 0–34). For APA criteria, AUCs were: HADS-D = 0.84; PHQ-9 = 0.90; and BDI-II = 0.86. Optimal sensitivity and specificity were reached where HADS-D ≥9 (74%, 76%); PHQ-9 ≥12 (77%, 79%), and BDI-II ≥23 (74%, 75%). For NICE criteria: HADS-D AUC = 0.89; PHQ-9 AUC = 0.93; and BDI-II AUC = 0.90. Optimal sensitivity and specificity were reached where HADS-D ≥10 (82%, 75%), PHQ-9 ≥15 (89%, 83%), and BDI-II ≥28 (83%, 80%). LRs did not provide evidence of sufficient accuracy for clinical use.
Conclusion
As selecting treatment according to depression severity is informed by an evidence base derived from trials using HRSD-17, and none of the measures tested aligned adequately with that tool, they are inappropriate for use.
doi:10.3399/bjgp11X583209
PMCID: PMC3123505  PMID: 21722450
depression; primary care; sensitivity; severity; specificity
6.  Differences in the classification of hypertensive controlled patient in primary care: Cross sectional study 
JRSM Short Reports  2012;3(10):72.
Objectives
To examine differences in blood pressure control using the 2006 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the 2007 Quality and Outcome Framework (QOF) standards.
Design
Cross-sectional study.
Setting
28 general practices located in Wandsworth, London.
Participants
Hypertensive patients aged 17 years and over.
Main outcomes measures
Percentage of hypertensive patients classified as a hypertensive controlled patient (HCP) by each standard.
Results
79.5% of patients were classified as a HCP by the QOF target and 60.7% by the NICE target. 93% and 14% of practices had more than 70% of patients classified as a HPC by using the QOF and NICE targets respectively. By applying the QOF target, men aged 45–64 years and 65 years and over had significantly higher probability of being classified as a HCP compared to those aged 17–44 years, OR 1.34 (1.08–.165) and OR 2.15 (1.61–2.87) respectively. Regardless of the target, for men the probability of being classified as a HCP increased with age.
Conclusion
Better achievement of blood pressure control targets is present when the less stringent QOF target is used. Men aged 65 years and over were more likely to be classified as a HCP. Greater consistency is needed between the clinical targets in QOF and NICE guidance.
doi:10.1258/shorts.2012.012008
PMCID: PMC3499957  PMID: 23162685
7.  Implementation of pay for performance in primary care: a qualitative study 8 years after introduction 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(611):e408-e415.
Background
Pay for performance is now a widely adopted quality improvement initiative in health care. One of the largest schemes in primary care internationally is the English Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
Aim
To obtain a longer term perspective on the implementation of the QOF.
Design and setting
Qualitative study with 47 health professionals in 23 practices across England.
Method
Semi-structured interviews.
Results
Pay for performance is accepted as a routine part of primary care in England, with previous more individualistic and less structured ways of working seen as poor practice. The size of the QOF and the evidence-based nature of the indicators are regarded as key to its success. However, pay for performance may have had a negative impact on some aspects of medical professionalism, such as clinical autonomy, and led a significant minority of GPs to prioritise their own pay rather than patients’ best interests. A small minority of GPs tried to increase their clinical autonomy with further unintended consequences.
Conclusion
Pay for performance indicators are now welcomed by primary healthcare teams and GPs across generations. Almost all interviewees wanted to see a greater emphasis on involving front line practice teams in developing indicators. However, almost all GPs and practice managers described a sense of decreased clinical autonomy and loss of professionalism. Calibrating the appropriate level of clinical autonomy is critical if pay for performance schemes are to have maximal impact on patient care.
doi:10.3399/bjgp13X668203
PMCID: PMC3662458  PMID: 23735412
health services research; primary health care; pay for performance; professionalism
8.  Investigating the use of NICE guidelines and IAPT services in the treatment of depression 
Mental Health in Family Medicine  2012;9(3):149-160.
Background There is evidence that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for mental health disorders are used to varying degrees in primary care. A lack of access to cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be a barrier to their implementation. The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative was created in 2007 to increase the availability of NICE-recommended psychological treatments for depression and anxiety disorders within the National Health Service in England.
Aim This study aims to investigate whether general practitioners (GPs) who have access to IAPT services and use NICE guidelines are more likely to use NICE concordant treatments for depression than those who do not. Depression was chosen as it is the most common mental health problem facing primary care physicians.
Method Questionnaires were sent to 830 GPs in southeast England and six GPs were interviewed. The response rate to the questionnaires was 27% (n = 222).
Results Ninety-five per cent of GPs were aware of the NICE guidelines for depression, and 76% had read them. Concordance with the guidelines was significantly higher when GPs had access to a local IAPT service or had read the NICE guidelines.
Conclusions The interviews revealed favourable views to IAPT services when used, although access to treatments was still a common barrier to the implementation of the NICE guidelines for depression.
PMCID: PMC3622907  PMID: 23997821
clinical guidelines; depression; evidence-based treatments
9.  Impact of the 2004 GMS contract on practice nurses: 
ABSTRACT
Background
The new GMS contract has led to practice nurses playing an important role in the delivery of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
Aim
This study investigated how practice nurses perceive the changes in their work since the contract's inception.
Design of study
A qualitative approach, sampling practice nurses from practices in areas of high and low deprivation, with a range of QOF scores.
Setting
Glasgow, UK.
Method
Individual interviews were conducted, audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed using a thematic approach.
Results
Three themes emerged: roles and incentives, workload, and patient care. Practice nurses were positive about the development of their professional role since the introduction of the new GMS contract but had mixed views about whether their status had changed. Views on incentives (largely related to financial rewards) also varied, but most felt under-rewarded, irrespective of practice QOF achievement. All reported a substantial increase in workload, related to incentivised QOF domains with greater ‘box ticking’ and data entry, and less time to spend with patients. Although the structure created by the new contract was generally welcomed, many were unconvinced that it improved patient care and felt other important areas of care were neglected. Concern was also expressed about a negative effect of the QOF on holistic care, including ethical concerns and detrimental effects on the patient–nurse relationship, which were regarded as a core value.
Conclusions
The new GMS contract has given practice nurses increased responsibility. However, discontent about how financial gains are distributed and negative impacts on core values may lead to detrimental long-term effects on motivation and morale.
doi:10.3399/bjgp08X342183
PMCID: PMC2553531  PMID: 18826783
GMS contract; incentives; practice nurses; primary health care
10.  How QOF is shaping primary care review consultations: a longitudinal qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:103.
Background
Long-term conditions (LTCs) are increasingly important determinants of quality of life and healthcare costs in populations worldwide. The Chronic Care Model and the NHS and Social Care Long Term Conditions Model highlight the use of consultations where patients are invited to attend a consultation with a primary care clinician (practice nurse or GP) to complete a review of the management of the LTC. We report a qualitative study in which we focus on the ways in which QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework) shapes routine review consultations, and highlight the tensions exposed between patient-centred consulting and QOF-informed LTC management.
Methods
A longitudinal qualitative study. We audio-recorded consultations of primary care practitioners with patients with LTCs. We then interviewed both patients and practitioners using tape-assisted recall. Patient participants were followed for three months during which the research team made weekly contact and invited them to complete weekly logs about their health service use. A second interview at three months was conducted with patients. Analysis of the data sets used an integrative framework approach.
Results
Practitioners view consultations as a means of ‘surveillance’ of patients. Patients present themselves, often passively, to the practitioner for scrutiny, but leave the consultation with unmet biomedical, informational and emotional needs. Patients perceived review consultations as insignificant and irrelevant to the daily management of their LTC and future healthcare needs. Two deviant cases, where the requirements of the ‘review’ were subsumed to meet the patient’s needs, focused on cancer and bereavement.
Conclusions
Routine review consultations in primary care focus on the biomedical agenda set by QOF where the practitioner is the expert, and the patient agenda unheard. Review consultations shape patients’ expectations of future care and socialize patients into becoming passive subjects of ‘surveillance’. Patient needs outside the narrow protocol of the review are made invisible by the process of review except in extreme cases such as anticipating death and bereavement. We suggest how these constraints might be overcome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-103
PMCID: PMC3726490  PMID: 23870537
Primary care; Long-term conditions; Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF); Consultations; Longitudinal qualitative research
11.  Talking about depression: a qualitative study of barriers to managing depression in people with long term conditions in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:10.
Background
The risk of depression is increased in people with long term conditions (LTCs) and is associated with poorer patient outcomes for both the depressive illness and the LTC, but often remains undetected and poorly managed. The aim of this study was to identify and explore barriers to detecting and managing depression in primary care in people with two exemplar LTCs: diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods
Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 healthcare professionals drawn predominately from primary care, along with 7 service users and 3 carers (n = 29). One focus group was then held with a set of 6 healthcare professionals and a set of 7 service users and 1 carer (n = 14). Interviews and the focus group were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed independently. The two data sets were then inspected for commonalities using a constant comparative method, leading to a final thematic framework used in this paper.
Results
Barriers to detecting and managing depression in people with LTCs in primary care exist: i) when practitioners in partnership with patients conceptualise depression as a common and understandable response to the losses associated with LTCs - depression in the presence of LTCs is normalised, militating against its recognition and treatment; ii) where highly performanced managed consultations under the terms of the Quality and Outcomes Framework encourage reductionist approaches to case-finding in people with CHD and diabetes, and iii) where there is uncertainty among practitioners about how to negotiate labels for depression in people with LTCs in ways that might facilitate shared understanding and future management.
Conclusion
Depression was often normalised in the presence of LTCs, obviating rather than facilitating further assessment and management. Furthermore, structural constraints imposed by the QOF encouraged reductionist approaches to case-finding for depression in consultations for CHD and diabetes. Future work might focus on how interventions that draw on the principles of the chronic care model, such as collaborative care, could support primary care practitioners to better recognise and manage depression in patients with LTCs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-10
PMCID: PMC3070666  PMID: 21426542
12.  The UK Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance scheme and spirometry: rewarding quality or just quantity? A cross-sectional study in Rotherham, UK 
Background
Accurate spirometry is important in the management of COPD. The UK Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance scheme for general practitioners includes spirometry related indicators within its COPD domain. It is not known whether high achievement against QOF spirometry indicators is associated with spirometry to BTS standards.
Methods
Data were obtained from the records of 3,217 patients randomly sampled from 5,649 patients with COPD in 38 general practices in Rotherham, UK. Severity of airflow obstruction was categorised by FEV1 (% predicted) according to NICE guidelines. This was compared with clinician recorded COPD severity. The proportion of patients whose spirometry met BTS standards was calculated in each practice using a random sub-sample of 761 patients. The Spearman rank correlation between practice level QOF spirometry achievement and performance against BTS spirometry standards was calculated.
Results
Spirometry as assessed by clinical records was to BTS standards in 31% of cases (range at practice level 0% to 74%). The categorisation of airflow obstruction according to the most recent spirometry results did not agree well with the clinical categorisation of COPD recorded in the notes (Cohen's kappa = 0.34, 0.30 – 0.38). 12% of patients on COPD registers had FEV1 (% predicted) results recorded that did not support the diagnosis of COPD. There was no association between quality, as measured by adherence to BTS spirometry standards, and either QOF COPD9 achievement (Spearman's rho = -0.11), or QOF COPD10 achievement (rho = 0.01).
Conclusion
The UK Quality and Outcomes Framework currently assesses the quantity, but not the quality of spirometry.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-108
PMCID: PMC2706821  PMID: 19558719
13.  Quality of diabetes care worldwide and feasibility of implementation of the Alphabet Strategy: GAIA project (Global Alphabet Strategy Implementation Audit) 
Background
The Alphabet Strategy (AS) is a diabetes care checklist ensuring “important, simple things are done right all the time.” Current audits of diabetes care in developed countries reveal wide variations in quality with performance of care processes frequently sub-optimal. This study had three components: an audit to assess diabetes care quality worldwide,a questionnaire study seeking opinions on the merits of the AS,a pilot study to assess the practicality of implementation of the AS in a low socioeconomic setting.
Methods
Audit data was collected from 52 centres across 32 countries. Data from 4537 patients were converted to Quality and Outcome Framework (QOF) scores to enable inter-centre comparison. These were compared to each country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Total Health Expenditure percentage per capita (THE%). The opinions of diabetes patients and healthcare professionals from the diabetes care team at each of these centres were sought through a structured questionnaire. A retrospective audit on 100 randomly selected case notes was conducted prior to AS implementation in a diabetes outpatient clinic in India, followed by a prospective audit after four months to assess its impact on care quality.
Results
QOF scores showed wide variation across the centres (mean 49.0, range 10.2–90.1). Although there was a positive relationship between GDP and THE% to QOF scores, there were exceptions. 91% of healthcare professionals felt the AS approach was practical. Patients found the checklist to be a useful education tool. Significant improvements in several aspects of care as well as 36% improvement in QOF score were seen following implementation.
Conclusions
International centres observed large variations in care quality, with standards frequently sub-optimal. 71% of health care professionals would consider adopting the AS in their daily practice. Implementation in a low resource country resulted in significant improvements in some aspects of diabetes care. The AS checklist for diabetes care is a freely available in the public domain encompassing patient education, care plans, and educational resources for healthcare professionals including summary guidelines. The AS may provide a unique approach in delivering high quality diabetes care in countries with limited resources.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-467) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-467
PMCID: PMC4283094  PMID: 25306156
Diabetes mellitus; Chronic disease management; Alphabet strategy; Quality of care; Checklist; Multifactorial intervention
14.  Practitioners' views on managing childhood obesity in primary care: a qualitative study 
Background
In 2006 the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidance on the management of childhood obesity, for use by primary care practitioners. Little is known, however, about practitioners' views and experiences of managing childhood obesity in primary care.
Aim
To explore practitioners' views of primary care as a setting in which to treat childhood obesity.
Design of study
Qualitative interview study.
Setting
Primary care and other community settings based in Bristol, England.
Method
Interviews explored practitioners' views and experiences of managing childhood obesity and their knowledge of the recent guidance provided by the Department of Health and NICE. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Analysis was thematic and comparisons made both within and across the interviews.
Results
Thirty practitioners were interviewed: 12 GPs, 10 practice nurses, four school nurses, and four health visitors. Participants varied in their views about whether primary care is an appropriate treatment setting for childhood obesity. However, all described factors that limited the extent to which they could intervene effectively: a lack of expertise, resources, and contact with primary school children; the causes of childhood obesity; and the need to work with parents. It was also apparent that very few participants had knowledge of the recent guidance.
Conclusion
Practitioners do not currently view primary care as an effective treatment setting for childhood obesity and it is unlikely that the guidance from the Department of Health and NICE will have a meaningful impact on their management of this condition.
doi:10.3399/bjgp09X472269
PMCID: PMC2765837  PMID: 19712545
child health; obesity; primary health care; qualitative research
15.  Collaborative Interventions for Circulation and Depression (COINCIDE): study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial of collaborative care for depression in people with diabetes and/or coronary heart disease 
Trials  2012;13:139.
Background
Depression is up to two to three times as common in people with long-term conditions. It negatively affects medical management of disease and self-care behaviors, and leads to poorer quality of life and high costs in primary care. Screening and treatment of depression is increasingly prioritized, but despite initiatives to improve access and quality of care, depression remains under-detected and under-treated, especially in people with long-term conditions. Collaborative care is known to positively affect the process and outcome of care for people with depression and long-term conditions, but its effectiveness outside the USA is still relatively unknown. Furthermore, collaborative care has yet to be tested in settings that resemble more naturalistic settings that include patient choice and the usual care providers. The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of a collaborative-care intervention, for people with depression and diabetes/coronary heart disease in National Health Service (NHS) primary care, in which low-intensity psychological treatment services are delivered by the usual care provider - Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. The study also aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the intervention over 6 months, and to assess qualitatively the extent to which collaborative care was implemented in the intervention general practices.
Methods
This is a cluster randomized controlled trial of 30 general practices allocated to either collaborative care or usual care. Fifteen patients per practice will be recruited after a screening exercise to detect patients with recognized depression (≥10 on the nine-symptom Patient Health Questionnaire; PHQ-9). Patients in the collaborative-care arm with recognized depression will be offered a choice of evidence-based low-intensity psychological treatments based on cognitive and behavioral approaches. Patients will be case managed by psychological well-being practitioners employed by IAPT in partnership with a practice nurse and/or general practitioner. The primary outcome will be change in depressive symptoms at 6 months on the 90-item Symptoms Checklist (SCL-90). Secondary outcomes include change in health status, self-care behaviors, and self-efficacy. A qualitative process evaluation will be undertaken with patients and health practitioners to gauge the extent to which the collaborative-care model is implemented, and to explore sustainability beyond the clinical trial.
Discussion
COINCIDE will assess whether collaborative care can improve patient-centered outcomes, and evaluate access to and quality of care of co-morbid depression of varying intensity in people with diabetes/coronary heart disease. Additionally, by working with usual care providers such as IAPT, and by identifying and evaluating interventions that are effective and appropriate for routine use in the NHS, the COINCIDE trial offers opportunities to address translational gaps between research and implementation.
Trial Registration Number
ISRCTN80309252
Trial Status
Open
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-139
PMCID: PMC3519809  PMID: 22906179
Depression; Diabetes; Coronary heart disease; Primary care; Collaborative care
16.  Do the UK government's new Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) scores adequately measure primary care performance? A cross-sectional survey of routine healthcare data 
Background
General practitioners' remuneration is now linked directly to the scores attained in the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). The success of this approach depends in part on designing a robust and clinically meaningful set of indicators. The aim of this study was to assess the extent to which measures of health observed in practice populations are correlated with their QOF scores, after accounting for the established associations between health outcomes and socio-demographics.
Methods
QOF data for the period April 2004 to March 2005 were obtained for all general practices in two English Primary Care Trusts. These data were linked to data for emergency hospital admissions (for asthma, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary hear disease, diabetes, stroke and all other conditions) and all cause mortality for the period September 2004 to August 2005. Multilevel logistic regression models explored the association between health outcomes (hospital admission and death) and practice QOF scores (clinical, additional services and organisational domains), age, sex and socio-economic deprivation.
Results
Higher clinical domain scores were generally associated with lower admission rates and this was significant for cancer and other conditions in PCT 2. Higher scores in the additional services domain were associated with higher admission rates, significantly so for asthma, CHD, stroke and other conditions in PCT 1 and cancer in PCT 2. Little association was observed between the organisational domain scores and admissions. The relationship between the QOF variables and mortality was less clear. Being female was associated with fewer admissions for cancer and CHD and lower mortality rates. Increasing age was mainly associated with an increased number of events. Increasing deprivation was associated with higher admission rates for all conditions and with higher mortality rates.
Conclusion
The associations between QOF scores and emergency admissions and mortality were small and inconsistent, whilst the impact of socio-economic deprivation on the outcomes was much stronger. These results have implications for the use of target-based remuneration of general practitioners and emphasise the need to tackle inequalities and improve the health of disadvantaged groups and the population as a whole.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-7-166
PMCID: PMC2117011  PMID: 17941984
17.  Acupuncture and Counselling for Depression in Primary Care: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001518.
In a randomized controlled trial, Hugh MacPherson and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture and counseling compared with usual care alone for the treatment of depression symptoms in primary care settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Depression is a significant cause of morbidity. Many patients have communicated an interest in non-pharmacological therapies to their general practitioners. Systematic reviews of acupuncture and counselling for depression in primary care have identified limited evidence. The aim of this study was to evaluate acupuncture versus usual care and counselling versus usual care for patients who continue to experience depression in primary care.
Methods and Findings
In a randomised controlled trial, 755 patients with depression (Beck Depression Inventory BDI-II score ≥20) were recruited from 27 primary care practices in the North of England. Patients were randomised to one of three arms using a ratio of 2∶2∶1 to acupuncture (302), counselling (302), and usual care alone (151). The primary outcome was the difference in mean Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores at 3 months with secondary analyses over 12 months follow-up. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.
PHQ-9 data were available for 614 patients at 3 months and 572 patients at 12 months. Patients attended a mean of ten sessions for acupuncture and nine sessions for counselling. Compared to usual care, there was a statistically significant reduction in mean PHQ-9 depression scores at 3 months for acupuncture (−2.46, 95% CI −3.72 to −1.21) and counselling (−1.73, 95% CI −3.00 to −0.45), and over 12 months for acupuncture (−1.55, 95% CI −2.41 to −0.70) and counselling (−1.50, 95% CI −2.43 to −0.58). Differences between acupuncture and counselling were not significant. In terms of limitations, the trial was not designed to separate out specific from non-specific effects. No serious treatment-related adverse events were reported.
Conclusions
In this randomised controlled trial of acupuncture and counselling for patients presenting with depression, after having consulted their general practitioner in primary care, both interventions were associated with significantly reduced depression at 3 months when compared to usual care alone.
Trial Registration
Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN63787732
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Depression–overwhelming sadness and hopelessness–is responsible for a substantial proportion of the global disease burden and is a major cause of suicide. It affects more than 350 million people worldwide and about one in six people will have an episode of depression during their lifetime. Depression is different from everyday mood fluctuations. For people who are clinically depressed, feelings of severe sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and worthlessness can last for months and years. Affected individuals lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and sometimes have physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep. Clinicians can diagnose depression and determine its severity by asking patients to complete a questionnaire (for example, the Beck Depression Inventory [BDI-II] or the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 [PHQ-9]) about their feelings and symptoms. The answer to each question is given a score and the total score from the questionnaire (“depression rating scale”) indicates the severity of depression. Antidepressant drugs are usually the front-line treatment for depression in primary care.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, antidepressants don't work for more than half of patients. Moreover, many patients would like to be offered non-pharmacological treatment options for depression such as acupuncture–a therapy originating from China in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points of the body–and counseling–a “talking therapy” that provides patients with a safe, non-judgmental place to express feelings and emotions and that helps them recognize their capacity for growth and fulfillment. However, it is unclear whether either of these treatments is effective in depression. In this pragmatic randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture or counseling in patients with depression compared to usual care in primary care in northern England. A randomized controlled trial compares outcomes in groups of patients who are assigned to different interventions through the play of chance. A pragmatic trial asks whether the intervention works under real-life conditions. Patient selection reflects routine practice and some aspects of the intervention are left to the discretion of clinician, By contrast, an explanatory trial asks whether an intervention works under ideal conditions and involves a strict protocol for patient selection and treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited 755 patients who had consulted their primary health care provider about depression within the past 5 years and who had a score of more than 20 on the BDI-II–a score that is defined as moderate-to-severe depression on this depression rating scale–at the start of the study. Patients were randomized to receive up to 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), up to 12 weekly sessions of counseling plus usual care (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients). Both the acupuncture protocol and the counseling protocols allowed for some individualization of treatment. Usual care, including antidepressants, was available according to need and monitored in all three groups. Compared to usual care alone, there was a significant reduction (a reduction unlikely to have occurred by chance) in the average PHQ-9 scores at both 3 and 6 months for both the acupuncture and counseling interventions. The difference between the mean PHQ-9 score for acupuncture and counseling was not significant. At 9 months and 12 months, because of improvements in the PHQ-9 scores in the usual care group, acupuncture and counseling were no longer significantly better than usual care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, compared to usual care alone, both acupuncture and counseling when provided alongside usual care provided significant benefits at 3 months in primary care to patients with recurring depression. Because this trial was a pragmatic trial, these findings cannot indicate which aspects of acupuncture and counseling are likely to be most or least beneficial. Nevertheless they do provide an estimate of the overall effects of these complex interventions, an estimate that is of most interest to patients, practitioners, and health care providers. Moreover, because this trial only considers the effect of these interventions on patients with moderate-to-severe depression as classified by the BDI-II; it provides no information about the effectiveness of acupuncture or counseling compared to usual care for patients with mild depression. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that further research into optimal treatment regimens for the treatment of depression with acupuncture and counseling is merited.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001518.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about depression, including personal stories about depression, and information on counseling and acupuncture
The UK charity Mind provides information on depression, on talking treatments, and on complementary and alternative therapies including acupuncture; Mind also includes personal stories about depression on its website
More personal stories about depression are available from Healthtalkonline
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression and about acupuncture (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001518
PMCID: PMC3782410  PMID: 24086114
18.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
Background
A gap exists between evidence and practice regarding the management of cardiovascular risk factors. This gap could be narrowed if systematically developed clinical practice guidelines were effectively implemented in clinical practice. We evaluated the effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of systematically developed guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial comparing a tailored intervention to passive dissemination of guidelines in 146 general practices in two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Patients started on medication for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia during the study period and all patients already on treatment that consulted their physician during the trial were included. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders linked to the medical record system. Pharmacists conducted the visits. Outcomes were measured for all eligible patients seen in the participating practices during 1 y before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were the proportions of (1) first-time prescriptions for hypertension where thiazides were prescribed, (2) patients assessed for cardiovascular risk before prescribing antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs, and (3) patients treated for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for 3 mo or more who had achieved recommended treatment goals.
The intervention led to an increase in adherence to guideline recommendations on choice of antihypertensive drug. Thiazides were prescribed to 17% of patients in the intervention group versus 11% in the control group (relative risk 1.94; 95% confidence interval 1.49–2.49, adjusted for baseline differences and clustering effect). Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
Conclusions
Our tailored intervention had a significant impact on prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, but was ineffective in improving the quality of other aspects of managing hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in primary care.
Editors' Summary
Background.
An important issue in health care is “getting research into practice,” in other words, making sure that, when evidence from research has established the best way to treat a disease, doctors actually use that approach with their patients. In reality, there is often a gap between evidence and practice.
  An example concerns the treatment of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high cholesterol. These are common conditions, and both increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Research has shown that the risks can be lowered if patients with these conditions are given drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensives) and drugs that lower cholesterol. There are many types of these drugs now available. In many countries, the health authorities want family doctors (general practitioners) to make better use of these drugs. They want doctors to prescribe them to everyone who would benefit, using the type of drugs found to be most effective. When there is a choice of drugs that are equally effective, they want doctors to use the cheapest type. (In the case of antihypertensives, an older type, known as thiazides, is very effective and also very cheap, but many doctors prefer to give their patients newer, more expensive alternatives.) Health authorities have issued guidelines to doctors that address these issues. However, it is not easy to change prescribing practices, and research in several countries has shown that issuing guidelines has only limited effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted—in two parts of Norway—to compare the effects on prescribing practices of what they called the “passive dissemination of guidelines” with a more active approach, where the use of the guidelines was strongly promoted and encouraged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They worked with 146 general practices. In half of them the guidelines were actively promoted. The remaining were regarded as a control group; they were given the guidelines but no special efforts were made to encourage their use. It was decided at random which practices would be in which group; this approach is called a randomized controlled trial. The methods used to actively promote use of the guidelines included personal visits to the practices by pharmacists and use of a computerized reminder system. Information was then collected on the number of patients who, when first treated for hypertension, were prescribed a thiazide. Other information collected included whether patients had been properly assessed for their level of risk (for strokes and heart attacks) before antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs were given. In addition, the researchers recorded whether the recommended targets for improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol level had been reached.
Only 11% of those patients visiting the control group of practices who should have been prescribed thiazides, according to the guidelines, actually received them. Of those seen by doctors in the practices where the guidelines were actively promoted, 17% received thiazides. According to statistical analysis, the increase achieved by active promotion is significant. Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even in the active promotion group, the great majority of patients (83%) were still not receiving treatment according to the guidelines. However, active promotion of guidelines is more effective than simply issuing the guidelines by themselves. The study also demonstrates that it is very hard to change prescribing practices. The efforts made here to encourage the doctors to change were considerable, and although the results were significant, they were still disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that achievement of treatment goals was no better in the active-promotion group. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134.
• The Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians has a page on heart disease
• The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia's pages on heart diseases and vascular diseases
• Information from NHS Direct (UK National Health Service) about heart attack and stroke
• Another PLoS Medicine article has also addressed trends in thiazide prescribing
Passive dissemination of management guidelines for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia was compared with active promotion. Active promotion led to significant improvement in antihypertensive prescribing but not other aspects of management.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
19.  Primary care quality indicators for children: measuring quality in UK general practice 
The British Journal of General Practice  2014;64(629):e752-e757.
Background
Child health care is an important part of the UK general practice workload; in 2009 children aged <15 years accounted for 10.9% of consultations. However, only 1.2% of the UK’s Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance incentive points relate specifically to children.
Aim
To improve the quality of care provided for children and adolescents by defining a set of quality indicators that reflect evidence-based national guidelines and are feasible to audit using routine computerised clinical records.
Design and setting
Multi-step consensus methodology in UK general practice.
Method
Four-step development process: selection of priority issues (applying nominal group methodology), systematic review of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) clinical guidelines, translation of guideline recommendations into quality indicators, and assessment of their validity and implementation feasibility (applying consensus methodology used in selecting QOF indicators).
Results
Of the 296 national guidelines published, 48 were potentially relevant to children in primary care, but only 123 of 1863 recommendations (6.6%) met selection criteria for translation into 56 potential quality indicators. A further 13 potential indicators were articulated after review of existing quality indicators and standards. Assessment of the validity and feasibility of implementation of these 69 candidate indicators by a clinical expert group identified 35 with median scores 8 on a 9-point Likert scale. However, only seven of the 35 achieved a GRADE rating >1 (were based on more than expert opinion).
Conclusion
Producing valid primary care quality indicators for children is feasible but difficult. These indicators require piloting before wide adoption but have the potential to raise the standard of primary care for all children.
doi:10.3399/bjgp14X682813
PMCID: PMC4240147  PMID: 25452539
clinical guidelines; paediatrics; primary health care; quality indicator
20.  Completeness of Maternal Smoking Status Recording during Pregnancy in United Kingdom Primary Care Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72218.
Background
Given the health impacts of smoking during pregnancy and the opportunity for primary healthcare teams to encourage pregnant smokers to quit, our primary aim was to assess the completeness of gestational smoking status recording in primary care data and investigate whether completeness varied with women's characteristics. As a secondary aim we assessed whether completeness of recording varied before and after the introduction of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
Methods
In The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database we calculated the proportion of pregnancies ending in live births or stillbirths where there was a recording of maternal smoking status for each year from 2000 to 2009. Logistic regression was used to assess variation in the completeness of maternal smoking recording by maternal characteristics, before and after the introduction of QOF.
Results
Women had a record of smoking status during the gestational period in 28% of the 277,552 pregnancies identified. In 2000, smoking status was recorded in 9% of pregnancies, rising to 43% in 2009. Pregnant women from the most deprived group were 17% more likely to have their smoking status recorded than pregnant women from the least deprived group before QOF implementation (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.10–1.25) and 42% more likely afterwards (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.37–1.47). A diagnosis of asthma was related to recording of smoking status during pregnancy in both the pre-QOF (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.53–1.74) and post-QOF periods (OR 2.08, 95% CI 2.02–2.15). There was no association between having a diagnosis of diabetes and recording of smoking status during pregnancy pre-QOF however, post-QOF diagnosis of diabetes was associated with a 12% increase in recording of smoking status (OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.05–1.19).
Conclusion
Recording of smoking status during pregnancy in primary care data is incomplete though has improved over time, especially after the implementation of the QOF, and varies by maternal characteristics and QOF-incentivised morbidities.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072218
PMCID: PMC3777944  PMID: 24069143
21.  Developing resources to support the diagnosis and management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalitis (CFS/ME) in primary care: a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:93.
Background
NICE guidelines emphasise the need for a confident, early diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalitis (CFS/ME) in Primary Care with management tailored to the needs of the patient. Research suggests that GPs are reluctant to make the diagnosis and resources for management are currently inadequate. This study aimed to develop resources for practitioners and patients to support the diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in primary care.
Methods
Semi structured interviews were conducted with patients, carers, GPs, practice nurses and CFS/ME specialists in North West England. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed qualitatively using open explorative thematic coding. Two patient involvement groups were consulted at each stage of the development of resources to ensure that the resources reflect everyday issues faced by people living with CFS/ME.
Results
Patients and carers stressed the importance of recognising CFS/ME as a legitimate condition, and the need to be believed by health care professionals. GPs and practice nurses stated that they do not always have the knowledge or skills to diagnose and manage the condition. They expressed a preference for an online training package. For patients, information on getting the most out of a consultation and the role of carers was thought to be important. Patients did not want to be overloaded with information at diagnosis, and suggested information should be given in steps. A DVD was suggested, to enable information sharing with carers and family, and also for those whose symptoms act as a barrier to reading.
Conclusion
Rather than use a top-down approach to the development of training for health care practitioners and information for patients and carers, we have used data from key stakeholders to develop a patient DVD, patient leaflets to guide symptom management and a modular e-learning resource which should equip GPs to diagnose and manage CFS/ME effectively, meet NICE guidelines and give patients acceptable, evidence-based information.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-93
PMCID: PMC3573921  PMID: 22998151
Chronic fatigue syndrome; ME; Resources; Patient; Practitioner; Qualitative research; Primary health care
22.  Exception reporting in the Quality and Outcomes Framework: views of practice staff – a qualitative study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2011;61(585):e183-e189.
Background
Exception reporting allows practices to exclude eligible patients from indicators or an entire clinical domain of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). It is a source of contention, viewed by some as a ‘gaming’ mechanism.
Aim
To explore GP and practice staff views and experiences of exception reporting in the QOF.
Design of study
Qualitative semi-structured interviews.
Setting
Interviews with 24 GPs, 20 practice managers, 13 practice nurses, and nine other staff were conducted in 27 general practices in the UK.
Method
Semi-structured interviews, analysed using open explorative thematic coding.
Results
Exception reporting was seen as a clinically necessary part of the QOF. Exempting patients, particularly for discretionary reasons, was seen as an ‘exception to the rule’ that was justified either in terms of practising patient-centred care within a framework of population-based health measures or because of the poor face validity of the indicators. Rates in all practices were described as minimal and the threat of external scrutiny from primary care trusts kept rates low. However, GPs were happy to defend using discretionary exception codes for individual patients. Exception reporting was used, particularly at the end of the payment year, to meet unmet targets and to prevent the practice being penalised financially. Overt gaming was seen as something done by ‘other’ practices. Only two GPs admitted to occasional inappropriate exception reporting.
Conclusion
Exception reporting is seen by most GPs and practice staff as an important and defensible safeguard against inappropriate treatment or over-treatment of patients. However, a minority of practitioners also saw it as a gaming mechanism.
doi:10.3399/bjgp11X567117
PMCID: PMC3063047  PMID: 21439176
primary care; qualitative research; quality indicators
23.  The Impact of a Diabetes Local Enhanced Service on Quality Outcome Framework Diabetes Outcomes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83738.
Background
The rising challenge of diabetes requires novel service delivery approaches. In the UK, Local Enhanced Services (LES) have been commissioned for diabetes. Health professionals from general practices (GPs) who signed up to LES were given additional training (and a monetary incentive) to improve management of patients with diabetes. All practices in the PCT were invited to the LES initiative, which ensured avoiding selection bias. The aim of the study was to examine the impact of LES in terms of diabetes Quality Outcome Framework (QOF) indicators: DM23(glycaemia), DM17(lipid) and DM12(blood pressure; BP).
Methods
QOF diabetes indicators were examined using data from 76 general practices for 2009–2010 in a large primary care trust area in Birmingham, UK. Data were extracted from Quality Management Analysis System. The primary outcome was a difference in achievement of QOF indicators between LES and NLES practices. A secondary outcome was the difference between LES and non-LES practices for hospital first and follow-up appointments.
Results
We did not find any difference for DM12(BP) and DM17(lipid) outcomes between LES and NLES practices. However, LES practices were more likely to achieve the DM23(glycaemia) outcome (estimated odds 1.459;95% CI:1.378-1.544; P=0.0001). The probability of achieving satisfactory level of DM23(glycaemia) increased by almost 10% when GPs belonged to LES groups compared with GPs in NLES group. LES practices were less likely to refer patients to secondary care.
Conclusion
Overall, LES practices performed better in the achievement of DM23(glycaemia) and also referred fewer patients to hospital, thereby meeting their objectives. This suggests that the LES approach is beneficial and needs to be further explored in order to ascertain whether the impact exerted was due to LES.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083738
PMCID: PMC3866172  PMID: 24358306
24.  Psychometric comparison of PHQ-9 and HADS for measuring depression severity in primary care 
Background
The 2004 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines highlight the importance of assessing severity of depression in primary care.
Aim
To assess the psychometric properties of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the depression subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) for measuring depression severity in primary care.
Design of study
Psychometric assessment.
Setting
Thirty-two general practices in Grampian, Scotland.
Method
Consecutive patients referred to a primary care mental health worker completed the PHQ-9 and HADS at baseline (n = 1063) and at the end of treatment (n = 544). Data were analysed to assess reliability, robustness of factor structure, convergent/discriminant validity, convergence of severity banding, and responsiveness to change.
Results
Both scales demonstrated high internal consistency at baseline and end of treatment (PHQ-9 α = 0.83 and 0.92; HADS-D α = 0.84 and 0.89). One factor emerged each for the PHQ-9 (explaining 42% of variance) and HADS-D (explaining 52% of variance). Both scales converged more with each other than with the HADS anxiety (HADS-A) subscale at baseline (P<0.001) and at end of treatment (P = 0.01). Responsiveness to change was similar: effect size for PHQ-9 = 0.99 and for the HADS-D = 1. The HADS-D and PHQ-9 differed significantly in categorising severity of depression, with the PHQ-9 categorising a greater proportion of patients with moderate/severe depression (P<0.001).
Conclusion
The HADS-D and PHQ-9 demonstrated reliability, convergent/discriminant validity, and responsiveness to change. However, they differed considerably in how they catergorised severity. Given that treatment decisions are made on the basis of severity, further work is needed to assess the validity of the scales' severity cut-off bands.
doi:10.3399/bjgp08X263794
PMCID: PMC2148236  PMID: 18186994
depression; measurement; primary care; severity
25.  ‘Just another incentive scheme’: a qualitative interview study of a local pay-for-performance scheme for primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15(1):168.
Background
A range of policy initiatives have addressed inequalities in healthcare and health outcomes. Local pay-for-performance schemes for primary care have been advocated as means of enhancing clinical ownership of the quality agenda and better targeting local need compared with national schemes such as the UK Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). We investigated whether professionals’ experience of a local scheme in one English National Health Service (NHS) former primary care trust (PCT) differed from that of the national QOF in relation to the goal of reducing inequalities.
Methods
We conducted retrospective semi-structured interviews with primary care professionals implementing the scheme and those involved in its development. We purposively sampled practices with varying levels of population socio-economic deprivation and achievement. Interviews explored perceptions of the scheme and indicators, likely mechanisms of influence on practice, perceived benefits and harms, and how future schemes could be improved. We used a framework approach to analysis.
Results
Thirty-eight professionals from 16 general practices and six professionals involved in developing local indicators participated. Our findings cover four themes: ownership, credibility of the indicators, influences on behaviour, and exacerbated tensions. We found little evidence that the scheme engendered any distinctive sense of ownership or experiences different from the national scheme. Although the indicators and their evidence base were seldom actively questioned, doubts were expressed about their focus on health promotion given that eventual benefits relied upon patient action and availability of local resources. Whilst practices serving more affluent populations reported status and patient benefit as motivators for participating in the scheme, those serving more deprived populations highlighted financial reward. The scheme exacerbated tensions between patient and professional consultation agendas, general practitioners benefitting directly from incentives and nurses who did much of the work, and practices serving more and less affluent populations which faced different challenges in achieving targets.
Conclusions
The contentious nature of pay-for-performance was not necessarily reduced by local adaptation. Those developing future schemes should consider differential rewards and supportive resources for practices serving more deprived populations, and employing a wider range of levers to promote professional understanding and ownership of indicators.
doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0168-7
PMCID: PMC4213492  PMID: 25344735
Primary health care; Pay-for-performance; Financial incentives; Social deprivation

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